More Than Just a Ceiling: Soundproofing

Written by Milan Jara

Sounds fill the air everywhere, some of them are pleasant and other noises can be harmful. If sounds reach a point of excessiveness, with level, duration, and frequency, a number of negative issues can result. Damage to hearing can occur easily with loud noises. People can also experience harmful anxiety when they are subjected to excessive noise. Soundproofing is one way to reduce harm from noise pollution. It's possible to install acoustic ceiling tiles into rooms to serve as a soundproofing barrier from outside noises.

Years ago, soundproofing a home involved bulky insulation that was difficult to install. Newer technologies have reduced the bulk of insulation necessary to protect from noise. These construction materials are also affordable and easier to install. Even decorative ceiling tiles are now available that offer appealing options for soundproofing. Costs for soundproofing a ceiling vary depending on the construction already present in a home and the level of soundproofing needed to protect against noise pollution. Acoustical ceiling tiles vary in price depending on style and thickness. You might pay between $20 and $80 per tile. After adding soundproofing materials to the ceiling, walls, and floor, you can also add additional protection with other decorative features such as curtains and floor coverings.

History of Soundproofing

Noise Attenuation

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has requirements for noise attenuation measures to be included in home construction in high noise areas, such as airports or highways. These construction techniques are effective for keeping noise levels below a specific point.

Aircraft Noise Issues

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration provides information about how noise reduction measures have changed and evolved over time.

Restoration of Historic Ceilings

Even historic ceilings can be restored to have soundproofing properties to protect people from excessive noise.

Reasons to Soundproof

Sounds You Can't Hear Can Still Hurt Your Ears

The human ear has a range of detectable frequencies. Some noises fall below this range. New studies suggest that even though the human ear can't detect a sound, it can still damage hearing.

Hearing Conservation (PDF)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides information about how the ears receive sounds. As sound waves travel through the air and reach the eardrum, vibrations occur. Many minute hair cells exist inside the ear, designed to move electrical impulses onward to the auditory nerve, enabling the ear to hear sound. An ear with exposure to excessive noise may have damaged hair cells, resulting in hearing loss.

How Hearing Loss Occurs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about how hearing loss can occur. Information presented includes details about typical sources of noise, the decibels involved with the noises, and the time of exposure that could lead to damage.

Noise and Child Cognition (PDF)

Explore the potential for noise issues for children. Kids may experience results from excessive noise that includes cognitive performance, impaired speech, reduced reading skills, poor memory and concentration, and decreased motivation to succeed.

Noise Pollution

Noise pollution can result in a variety of issues, depending on the intensity, duration, and frequency of the sounds. The resolution of noise pollution involves a multifaceted approach that addresses the source of the noise and educates people about how to avoid hearing loss. Soundproofing construction methods and the use of soundproof ceiling tiles are also instrumental in reducing noise pollution.

Styles of Ceiling Soundproofing

Assessment of Different Low-Frequency Soundproofing Systems for Room Acoustics (PDF)

This academic document provides information about the effectiveness of soundproofing systems to improve room acoustics and reduce noise pollution.

Studies and Research Regarding Sound Reduction Materials with the Purpose of Reducing Sound Pollution

Explore noise and how it impacts the human ear with information presented in this academic document. The document goes on to explain the effectiveness of sound barriers and sound-absorbing materials.

4 Physical Techniques to Reduce Noise Impacts

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration provides information about four different techniques that can reduce the impact of noise. Included in this list of techniques, acoustical construction is presented as one means of reducing noise pollution. Acoustical construction involves walls, windows, doors, and ceilings.

Sound Insulating Your Home

The City of Chicago offers residents living near O'Hare International Airport information about modifications they can make to their homes to reduce noise. Installing acoustical tiles in the ceiling is one modification that can be an effective solution to noise problems.

Clamoring for Quiet: New Ways to Mitigate Noise

Noise sources can be problematic for residents throughout the United States. This report provides information about how construction techniques can provide relief from noise pollution.

Quieting in the Home (PDF)

This report explains how sound absorption can be helpful in reducing the harmful effects of excessive noise. Learn about different sound-absorbing materials available for installation.

Additional Soundproofing Options

Soundproofing Floors Phase 1: The Underside of the Floor

Soundproofing floors is another way to protect an interior area from noise pollution. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers information about the benefits of soundproofing construction for both ceilings and floors.

Soundproofing Walls, Floors, and Ceilings

Excessive noise can result in permanent hearing damage. Loud noises also contribute to anxiety over time. Explore various building materials available for installation, including ceiling tiles, which can help reduce noise pollution.

- Milan Jara

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